Marathon Number Two

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*Image from www.richmondrunningfestival.com

Crossing the finish line of Brighton Marathon  there was no doubt I’d be doing another; the thrill of that last mile alone was contagious.

Brighton, as my first, was simply about seeing if I could hack it. The training through the cold winter months, the physical and mental drain and then the 26.2 miles itself. Being my first I just wanted to finish in one piece.

Having survived, without so much as a blister I knew that I could have pushed myself to go faster; which is exactly what I intend to do during Marathon Number two.

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I decided that I couldn’t wait an entire year until Spring marathon season and so I started researching Autumn marathons. We are hoping to go away on a two week holiday in early October so I decided I would opt for something localish, to avoid hotel/travel expenses associated with races. I had heard of Richmond Running Festival before and read good things about the organisation and atmosphere of the half marathon. Then I discovered that for the first time this year, a full marathon was being added to the festival; coupled with the fact that the course is pancake flat and I love Richmond, it ticked all the boxes.

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I learnt a lot from training for my first marathon, what works, what doesn’t and what I need to improve on. Last time I undertook a cautious twenty week program and it simply too long. Twenty weeks is an awfully long time to keep focused and quite simply I became frustrated and bored. This time around, given that my fitness levels remained in tact post Brighton, I am opting for fourteen weeks; commencing today and concluded on the big day 18 September 2016.

I have also drawn myself up a more strict training program, based on Hal Higdon’s ‘The Novice 1 plan’. It essentially reflects the plan but with some of the days swapped around, particularly to account for certain events such as my friend’s wedding and Alex’s birthday; I doubt he’d be too impressed me abandoning him for a 16 mile run. However, I am determined to more strictly follow a plan so that I resist the urge to make it up on a weekly basis. If an event or class comes up, then I will still make time for it but  just make sure I get my run done in the morning before work instead. Conveniently my new office is located exactly ten miles from home.

My next addition is the inclusion of speed work. I am not a fast runner, I enjoy plodding and even as far back as the days at school, I could just about drum up some enthusiasm for 800m but the 100m filled me with dread. Following Brighton I haven’t had much desire to go on any long runs, you could say that I had my fill after running for 6 hours straight (minus the portaloo stops). Instead I have been sticking to 5 milers and 3-5 mile treadmill speed work; I know it’s not quite the same but I find it a lot easier to maintain my speed for longer on a treadmill. In just 6 weeks I’ve knocked minutes off my previous 3 and 5 mile times and running on the road I have also noticed that my natural pace is a little faster than pre-marathon. So I’m hoping that in 14 weeks time with a focused speed session once a week, it will help me to chip away at my current marathon time.

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To keep my mind on track, I am also undertaking an online ‘Behaviour Change’ Course with Future Fit Training to help me understand behaviours and how they can be changed. I am guilty of several persistent bad ‘habits’ and whilst I constantly endeavour to quash them once and for all, add lack of sleep, stress or sometimes just some bad weather into the mix and my efforts dissipate. I’m hoping this course will help me understand my own behaviour better and enable me to share this knowledge with you.

So here’s to the next 14 weeks and marathon number two; I hear there are still places, if any one fancies joining me!

 

 

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Hellweek at Barry’s Bootcamp

Hellweek and Barry’s were two words that dominated my vocabulary during Week 14. At one point I was asked who is this Barry and why is he making you have a bad week?

I made my first, long awaited, visit to Barry’s back in January, Week 9, describing it as the holy grail of workouts and the whole experience of setting foot in the studio, being the complete package. I was warned Barry’s was addictive and I was dying to get back there.

Hellweek at Barry’s occurs whenever there are five Monday’s in a month and involves 7 classes in 7 days.  Days 1-4 focus on different specific muscle groups and then Days 5-7 are full body workouts. Considering how tough I found my first class and how sore I was the days after, the idea of Hellweek seemed ludicrous and that made the challenge all the more appealing to me.

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At first I was a little concerned on the effect Hellweek would have on my marathon training, as I wouldn’t be running for a whole week and then half of the next recovering. As you may have seen from my last few posts as it turned out there has been a major blip in my training as it is and so I felt Hellweek was just the extreme challenge that I needed, to mentally and physically reboot me.

Booking for classes go live at 12 midday each day for the following week. Luckily for me there was no fight over 10:45am and 4:15pm weekday classes, but to book my weekend classes I had to have speedy fingers and be on the website, refreshing at 11:59am. There was definitely some carnage amongst my fellow Hellweekers over bagging the sought after classes just either side of working hours.

Monday – Abs & Arms at East with Olly Truelove

On the treadmill I reached 8mph and maxed out, I was extremely uncomfortable and gasping for breath. On the floor I was struggling with the 5kg dumbbells. I have no upper body strength. I gave it my all but came away thinking how on earth did I think I could do this for 7 days in a row. After class I sampled one of Barry’s infamous post work out shakes. I opted for  Simply PB and within one sip I was addicted. Knowing that I had a shake waiting at the end of each workout honestly was a life saver. I planned to try out various shakes over the course of the week but only managed to venture from this classic once.

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Tuesday – Legs and Bum at East with Jemma

I really didn’t want to face the treadmill again. Like really really didn’t want to. Then the incline went to 8%. If it wasn’t for Jemma shouting my name in encouragement I would have not managed to keep up my speed. On the floor, with my runner’s legs I was feeling strong and enjoyed the burn from the squats and lunges. This gave me a real boost to tackle the second round on the treadmill.

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Wednesday – Chest, back and abs at East with Faisal aka Mr PMA 

I’ve heard a lot about how awesome Faisal’s classes are and the reality did not disappoint. High energy, full of encouragement and a tonne of Positive Mental Attitude saw me reaching 9.5mph and upping my dumbbells to 6kg. Something really clicked in this class and I left on a high ready to conquer the rest of the week.  I also had my first shower at Barry’s (don’t judge the other days I was heading straight home) and the products they use by Malin + Goetz are heavenly. The peppermint shampoo is just the revitalization you need after a sweaty class and the body lotion feels like silk. Yet another expensive habit to resist adopting.

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Thursday  – Abs at East with Jemma

Abs are something I long for but yet can never bring myself to work on outside a class environment. I knew this was going to be a tough session because my core strength is very poor. I may not have visible abs but they are definitely hidden away somewhere because by the end of the session and several rounds of planks, crunches, jackknives, they were on fire. On the treadmill I stared myself down (the walls are mirrors) as I ranked up the speeds to reach 10mph following Wednesday’s improvement and we faced inclines of 12%.

Friday – Fullbody at Central with Alex

15% inclines, 11mph speeds and 8kg dumbbells. Today really demonstrated to me the progress you can make in just five days if you really stick your heels in. Tackling a full body workout when every single muscle group already hurts is super tough. I kept thinking of the shake waiting for me at the end and used the staring myself down in the mirror tactic again.

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Saturday – Fullbody at Central with Hannah

I woke up and my body was crying out for a rest day. I was very stiff and every small movement engaged a sore muscle. It was most definitely the hardest day mentally as usually I would never exercise for this many days in a row. But was I going to skip class and be a Hellweek drop out. HELL NO. I knew by this point I would be struggling and was so grateful that I had co-ordinated doing a class with other fellow hellweekers. I loved Hannah’s class, from her style to her playlist, it was brutal and amazing in equal measures. 1 handed burpees on Day 6 of Hellweek…. there were not words, I genuinely feared how my face would fare again the floor. On the treadmill an amazing tune came on and I made it to 11.5mph sprint speed, how when we were running on a 9% incline for recovery I don’t know. I literally couldn’t even talk by the time we finished.  TMI but I was a little bit sick in my mouth at one point.

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(Photo credit – Laura Murray @murraylaura)

Sunday – THE BIG FINISHER – Fullbody at Central with Shane

The class was buzzing, we all knew we had an hour left to give it every last morsel of energy we had and then some, before Hellweek was complete. The badge of being a Hellweek survivor was dangling in front of us and there was no holding back. When the lights went down, I pushed and pushed and pushed, having come away from Hellweek, I didn’t want to think that I hadn’t given it my all and knowing that tomorrow would be rest day I emptied the tank. 12.3mph sprint on the treadmill for 30 seconds. It took absolutely everything I had. Staring in the mirror I was going so fast my reflection was blurry and my cheeks couldn’t keep up with the movement of the rest of my face. I have to confess I took my finger off the speed button a little too early, I thought I was at 12.5mph. But I’ll be back to conquer that 12.5 officially and want to work towards maintaining speeds of 10/11mph for the 90 second sprints.

I felt pure elation when the lights came up knowing I had conquered Hellweek, I wanted to bottle that feeling up, instead I’m going to remind myself of it when I’m at Mile 20 of my marathon and need that spur to the finish line.

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(Photo credit : Charlie Watson @therunnerbeans)

What really topped the week off for me was the amazing support and inspiration from all the other Hellweekers. We may have only done a few classes together but we exchanged stories of the aches, pains, achievements and number of half naked men, each day, making it feel like we really were taking on the challenge together.

I am so proud of myself and every other person that took on Hellweek. Its brutal but as I sit here nursing my sore muscles I have no regrets. I feel stronger, physically and mentally than ever before. Brighton Marathon, I’m coming for you!!!

If you have any questions, doubts or concerns about attending your first Barry’s class or taking on Hellweek ask away. Oh and I may have already looked up that the next Hellweek is in May…..

See you in the redroom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The X – Adidas Pop Up

To launch the new women’s only running shoe, Pure Boost X, last week, Adidas hosted a pop up in Victoria Park aptly named ‘The X’.

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Photo credit: Adidas

There were squeals of delight across social media channels in anticipation of what Adidas had in store for us and they certainly kept us guessing. First came this picture, containing practically all of my favourite fitness bloggers and then the news that they would each be teaching free classes. My excitement levels were through the roof.

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Photo credit: Adidas

Tickets were released in waves on Billetto and it was a little bit chaotic to say the least. If you had speedy fingers and managed to spot that new tickets had become available you then still had to keep your fingers crossed as this only entered you into a ballot for a place. I was extremely lucky and managed to bag a spot in three classes.

First up was Cat Meffan’s energising yoga class. I am not a morning person so the 5:30am start to get to The X for 7:15am was tough but I’ve followed Cat on social media, particularly Snapchat through her yoga teaching training and  couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be in one of her classes. She was fantastic, went at just the right pace, explained and demonstrated all the poses and we had a giggle along the way. Strange as it may be I have a thing about how yoga teachers sound and Cat has the perfect voice to guide you through yoga practice. I left feeling truly energised and ready to embrace the day.

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Next was possibly the hardest class to get a spot at, Carly Rowena’s meet up. This involved Carly leading us through a 30 minute HIIT workout followed by nibbles, juice and question time. Carly is as honest as they come, it was a no limits ask me anything session and I banked a whole host of fantastic tips from training to nutrition and the inevitable boob talk. Carly told us her story of going from a job she didn’t particularly like, posting videos about random things on Youtube to her success as a fitness blogger today; I came away filled to the brim with inspiration.

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And finally to top the week off, a class led by Zanna van Dijk. My boyfriend told me to play it cool and not be a ‘creepy lady’. I should explain, I have a little bit of a huge fitspo girl crush on Zanna, I can’t really explain it but its not creepy, promise.

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Zanna made us sweat ALOT. Her class was super intense and I actually felt like I was going to be sick at one point, all my limbs were shaking. She divided the session into two parts, exercises with dumbbells and then body weighted exercises. Then within that it was divided up into circuits, four exercises per circuit,  30 seconds to rest then repeat the circuit four times. Zanna had a fantastic no nonsense approach of get it done, it will hurt but you will feel amazing after and then you can rest. During the class I was in agony but once it was over  on the train home I frantically tried to recall and write down the workout to do at home because I knew if it hurt that much it must be working.

I should have known that in Zanna style she would be sharing the workout via her newsletter for everyone to try out, because she’s just lovely like that. I can’t find it on her website so I hope she doesn’t mind me sharing it her – any one who doesn’t already receive her newsletter needs to go sign up pronto for more fab gems like this.

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I’ve never been one for celebrities but in my world that’s exactly what these ladies are. I follow them on social media and my bedtime routine involves watching their Snapchat stories for the day so I go to bed filled with inspiration for the following day. To get the opportunity to be taught classes by them was just amazing. Cat, Carly and Zanna, don’t  teach classes and I think for all of them these sessions were their first time, ladies you were amazing and can’t stress personally and on behalf of the majority of fitness fans out their how much we would like you do classes on a more regular basis.

Go grab yourself some inspiration:

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Carly Rowena

Zanna van Dijk

Now to the shoes! During each of the above workouts we got to test out the Pure Boost X. My current favourite shoes are Adidas’ Ultra Boost, so I had high hopes for the “upgraded” version, particularly given the technology that had gone into the design, tailoring them specifically for women.  I wear a size 8 in my Ultra Boosts and that is is to allow a little room as I am usually a 7-7.5. I had to go up to a size 8.5 in the Pure Boost X and even then they were a little snug.

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In total I wore the shoes three times. My first impressions were that I liked the design but that the arch was very uncomfortable. It felt like there was something in my shoe or my sock had bunched up (it hadn’t). By the third time I tried the shoes I had become accustomed to the sensation of the arch so if you try them on in a shop and feel that peculiar feeling don’t necessarily be put off straight away, you do get used to it.

Whilst working out during Carly and Zanna’s classes I didn’t feel like the shoe gave me much support, particularly in comparison to the Ultra Boosts. Now I think it’s possibly more psychological for me having ripped the ligaments in my foot a few years ago that I like the support but I felt like my feet were sliding around sideways in the shoe. However, they do provide a degree of flexibility and are far lighter than the Ultra Boosts when doing HIIT exercises and I was able to move my feet faster.  I would definitely consider having Pure Boost X’s as my gym shoes.

Finally I tried the shoes out running, round the one mile loop outside The X which had been beautifully lit up. I have to say, for a short run I might possibly wear the Pure Boost X shoes but wouldn’t want to do anything over 5km and again this is for the support I look for in my running shoes.

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A big thank you to Adidas for a fantastic week, for Social Pantry for fuelling us and the amazing box of treats from Sourced (more on this soon).

I am carrying all the positive energy I’ve banked forward in my marathon training.

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Week 10 – Half way point

Week 10 marks the half way point of my marathon training. Thank goodness I opted for a 20 week training plan to allow for weeks like this. Out of know where on Tuesday evening I got hit by a cold accompanied by that fluish feeling and was blowing my nose for 4 days straight. The only thing stopping me from pushing through and getting out for a run was that I could barely breathe sitting still, so I had no chance whilst running. I panicked a little about having a week out but I’m certain that I got over the cold quicker as a result and received lots of reassurance from the lovely fitness people on Instagram. I managed to get a 6 mile run in before the cold hit but it was awfully painful and felt forced.

Today I was dying to do some exercise and work up a sweat and what better  way than Fempower’s February Sweat Up which was being held at ‘The King of Gyms” 1Rebel, one of my absolute favorite studios in London. If you haven’t yet ventured to 1Rebel its everything you could want from a fitness studio and I would urge you to look them up and pay a visit.  I have previously taken a Reshape class (hardest class of my life joint with Barry’s Bootcamp) but never experienced their Ride class, effectively its like a spin class +++ (but don’t let them hear you mention the word spin) its very much a case of #dontspinride.

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The class was led by master trainer Melissa and founder of Fempower. It was quite possibly the best spin class I’ve ever been to. The energy in the room was electric. The motto being ‘Don’t just show up TURN UP’. I was drenched in sweat and at one point it was dripping into my eyes and stinging. I wasn’t wearing my watch but could tell my heart rate was super high and I WAS LOVING IT. It was exactly what I needed to rectify this week and was very happy to share it the fantastic Fempower ladies.

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Post work out we were treated to some delicious pots of goodness from Well Fed and I had a luxurious shower with delightful products and fluffy towels to hand.

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So what is Fempower???? I can’t really describe it any better than Melissa does on the Fempower blog so I’m not going to mix the message and quote her directly.

“Fempower was born in response to a demand to see women beyond the mirror.” Melissa goes on to say that she believes that “As long as a women is healthy and happy, that how she looks is up to her. As long as you are healthy, there is no such thing as too fat, thin, big, small. Healthy being the operative word.” Fempower at its core is about sweat goals and honest selfies – the mantra being #iamenough. I could not agree more but with social media this often difficult to see past and put into practice. I’ve long decided that I’m not going to stop myself going to fitness classes just because I don’t fit into tiny bits of lycra or stop running because I’m large chested and there is a considerable amount of bounce that goes on. I can’t wait to see what else they have in store to work towards defying the social norm of what a fit girl should look like.

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Week 9

Where has January gone? A total of 68 miles in the marathon bank this month. Not where I intended to be but shin splints considered its a half decent contribution. Very happy with how this week’s training went.

Monday – Solo 3.5 mile plod 

Tuesday – BARRY’S BOOTCAMP

I have wanted to go to Barry’s for at least 8 months, so basically forever. I was ashamed to admit that I hadn’t but at £20 a class I couldn’t financially justify it and in all honesty I was a little bit scared I wouldn’t be able to keep up.  I was extremely lucky to nab a free class as part of Nike Women Week on #TrainTuesday of all days. Walking in I was a little nervous, the people in front of me requested their favourite stations and were definitely svelte enough to be twice weekly regulars. But I felt a thrill of exploring a new studio and workout.

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The class was Barry’s full body workout. I worked ever single muscle in my body, including ones I didn’t know I had. It was intense and almost extreme at times but if it hadn’t of been I would have been disappointing. For anyone who has experienced the holy grail that is Barry’s, its split between treadmill sprints, mostly at an incline and weights/bootcamp exercises on the “floor”. For any one considering going but a little worried, don’t be, yes its tough but its definitely worth it. On the treadmill the instructor gives you the option of beginner, intermediate or advanced speeds. I started off on beginner speeds but by the second treadmill set managed to dig deep and step it up to intermediate level. Equally on the floor you are able to choose how heavy you want your dumbbells to be.

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60 minutes later I was an exhausted, disorientated but elated sweaty mess. I can’t rave about Barry’s enough, from the candles in the changing rooms to the most delicious post workout shake. It really is the complete package. Now how to fund this habit……

Barry’s I will be back to conquer 12.5 on the treadmill.

Wednesday- I couldn’t really lift by arms and my legs struggled with the stairs. 

Thursday – 5 mile run across London to attend the Nike Women Week SNKR lock in. 

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Saturday – Long Run – 12 miles

With the shin splints being managed I ventured on a long run, my aim was to make it to ten miles. It was a beautiful day, the sun was shining and I wasn’t faced with any time constraints so I ran and ran and ran and when my shin splints didn’t play up I ran some more. I refueled at 6 miles with a Tribe bar, I’m yet to perfect the run/fuel technique without choking so I stopped for a few minutes to eat and have a quick stretch. My pace wasn’t any where fast enough but I was more concerned with getting the miles in than pace. When I reached the end of my road I could have easily carried on for a few more miles but thought it wise not to over do my legs after my longest run for some time. I wore my 2XU compression tights whilst running and then my Sweaty Betty compression socks post run and whether its psychological or not my legs definitely recovered better than previously.

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Sunday – 6 mile walk for a pub lunch

Three rest days but smashed Tuesday and Saturday’s workouts. Next week I’m planning to up the mileage as I reach the halfway point of my training. February I’m coming for you!!!!!!

 

 

Week 7

After my Week 6 training flop I made a come back in Week 7 working out 5 out of 7 days and walking lots on the other two days. I did less running to allow my shins to recover a little and had great fun trying out some new classes.

The week’s lowdown:

Monday – 4 mile solo run

I got home after work and it was very chilly. As tempting as it was to cosy up in the warmth I threw on my kit and got out for a run before I had the time to change my mind. Numerous layers kept my top half warm but despite my thermal running tights my thighs were still bitterly cold. That aside I was very glad to start the week off as I meant to go on – #nevermissamonday.

Tuesday – Be:Fit London Run Club – 3 miles

First run club of 2016 and we were hosted out of the Lights of Soho as part of Be:Fit London take over week. Its a fantastic venue, there were lots of lovely treats from the generous sponsors and lovely to see many of my fitness ladies for the first time since before Christmas. We went for a leisurely 3 miles which I’m always grateful for as they allow me to exercise the run and natter technique.

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Wednesday – Boxfit class at Workit London

Workit London  have been hosting a week of free classes,  at both of their studios in Central and East London. HIIT, Yoga and Boxfit classes were offer. I have been dying to try a boxing class for ages and to be honest been a little bit scared. The studio tucked within Albert House near to Old Street Station had a raw authentic feel. The trainers are former professionals and as a beginner I felt in good hands, just one session and I came away having improved my technique. It was a great class which mixed up boxing in partners, switching between holding pads and wearing gloves and bootcamp exercises in the form of burpees, squats, push ups etc. I woke up and really felt it in my arms. Can’t wait to put the gloves back on. Check out their schedule on their website.

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Thursday – POUND class 

I headed back to Be:Fit London’s pop up at Lights of Soho. I have to be honest it was advertised on Twitter as a Pound Gymbox class. So when I turned up I expected to be paying £1 for a class normally run at Gymbox. When the lovely Sara Fakih handed us each a pair of bright green drum sticks I was utterly bemused. What followed was an hour of co-ordination fails, laughs and some serious “abs” burn. Essentially you are dancing/squatting/lunging whilst air drumming/pounding the floor. 10 out of 10 for a class that disguises the burn of squats. If my arms hurt from the day before, the next day I could barely lift them. My legs may be strong but I seriously need to work on my upper body. To find out more about Be:Fit London and their fantastic fitness festival in May head to their website and nab yourself a ticket.

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Friday & Saturday – lots of walking, resting and colouring.

Sunday – Snow day

Opening the curtains to find it had snowed  my inner child came out to play. I’ve never run in the snow and have been very jealous of all the snow running pictures I’ve been seeing on Instagram from other countries. I have to be honest not a lot of actual consistent running was done as I kept stopping to take pictures. I now desperately want a proper snow day with heavy snow fall.

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After I was done frolicking, I headed to a Stretch and strengthening class held by the fantastically energetic Adrienne in collaboration with CoCoPro.  I’ve attended various sessions that Adrienne  has led in the past and her enthusiasm and energy is infectious and she really knows her stuff. I always come after with some brilliant exercises to add to my routine and today was no different. I’m always guilty of not stretching properly after running but today was a great reminder. There were definitely exercises that as a runner I struggled with but all of them gave me that wonderful ahhhhhhhh stretch feel. We finished off by re-hydrating with CoCoPro, which distinguishes itself in the coconut water market as being a combination of Pure Coconut Water and Whey Protein Isolate, creating the perfect post workout recovery drink. I had the pineapple flavored variety and it was super yummy.

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Week 7 has been awesome,  I’m very glad I’ve got my groove back following my Week 6 blip. I am a little worried that I skipped a long run this week but right now its more important that my shins recover than I get the miles in. With some tape, stretching and foam rolling I’m hoping to get out for a longish run next week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 6

Less than 100 days to go until Brighton Marathon and with that in mind it’s a little worrying that this week hasn’t gone to plan. But that’s why I opted for 20 weeks of training.
Going back to dragging myself out of bed at 7am, leaving and returning home in the dark and generally not being free between 9am- 7pm saw me neglect any sort of training. 19 days off work and I forget how I ever managed this routine and then also made time/ found the energy to run.
My intentions started off well, I endured the carnage of the overcrowded gym, it being the first Monday of the New Year and smiled nicely at the people in jeans walking on the treadmill, we all start somewhere right? (And no they weren’t those God awful exercise leggings made to look like jeans) I also tried not to get too annoyed at the tours of 10-15 people at a time being given, when the gym had already reached capacity, but when I had spent 10 mins queuing to do treadmill sprints and there showed no signs of a machine freeing up, I lost my patience and left having only managed 30 mins on the stairmaster.
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Wednesday I managed a little over 4.5 miles, an evening run commute from the office to station and I remembered how much I love running along the river in the evening. It felt really good after four days of not running, but sadly that didn’t spur me on and Thursday, Friday and Saturday saw no more than a bit of walking being done. I was just plain exhausted.
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After two lie ins and some beautiful weather I  coaxed myself outside with some new running gear I got for Christmas and I’ve been saving for a day when I needed an incentive to run.  My beautifully coordinating Ultra Boosts and 2XU compression legs.  Today’s 8 miles saw me get my head back in the game and ready to tackle Week 7 of my marathon training. I’m in Court all of next week as well so I’m looking forward to the slightly later starts and earlier finishes.
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I’m also battling with what I now think are shin splints. For the last two weeks my shins have been very tender/painful to touch/ if I accidentally walk into something, but not otherwise. Unfortunately, today for the first few miles they also hurt whilst running. Desperately hoping this doesn’t  get any worse and have an effect on my training. Time to do some proper research / see a physio.
Good luck to everyone who started their training for the Spring marathons this week, I look forward to all your updates.